Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath paid tribute to the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez who died on Tuesday following a two year battle with cancer.
Also on Wednesday, Iran\’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid tribute to Chavez and Iran declared a day of national mourning.
Shaath noted the former Venezualan President\’s special relationship to Palestine, Palestinian news agency Ma\’an reported.
“Today we remember the words of Simon Bolivar ‘I desire to see (Latin) America fashioned into the greatest nation in the world, greatest not so much by virtue of her area and wealth as by her freedom and glory.’ President Chavez endlessly worked not only for freedom and glory for his beloved Latin America, but for all oppressed peoples, including Palestine, a country he kept in his heart," Sha\’ath stated.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had forged a public friendship with Chavez characterized by lavish mutual praise, hugs and light-hearted moments, may attend Chavez\’s funeral on Friday, state news agency IRNA reported. Chavez shared the Islamic Republic\’s loathing for US "imperialism".
"Hugo Chavez is a name known to all nations. His name is a reminder of cleanliness and kindness, bravery … dedication and tireless efforts to serve the people, especially the poor and those scarred by colonialism and imperialism," Ahmadinejad said.
The US had looked askance at Venezuela\’s warm relationship with Iran, fearing that Caracas could give Tehran an economic lifeline as it struggles to stave off pressure from sanctions over its nuclear activities.
Chavez, at a news conference with Ahmadinejad in Caracas in January 2012, mocked U.S. suspicions about Iran\’s nuclear work, saying: "That hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out."